Mycoplasma is a bacterium like organism that affects plants, animals and humans. There are over 150 species of mycoplasma. Mycoplasma felis is the organism that affects cats, causing respiratory disease and conjunctivitis. Mycoplasma can affect many organs in the body and as a result, be the source of many different conditions. The organism is resistant to many anti-biotics because it does not have a cell wall. Mycoplasmas have membranes that make it easy for the organism to attach to blood cells and travel throughout the cat’s body. Because of this, many animals with mycoplasma infection also become anemic.
Mycoplasma can bring with it a host of symptoms. Skin abscesses, weight loss, lethargy, and conjunctivitis, along with bloody urine, coughing, sneezing, arthritis, inner ear infections and frequent urination are only some of the signs of mycoplasma infection. Infertility and abortion of litters can also occur. While animals of any age can become sick with mycoplasma infection, it is more often seen in animals with weakened immune systems. This could be from sickness, or other treatments and medications the pet is undergoing. Stress can also be a factor. Because there is such a broad range of symptoms, other causes of illness will also have to be ruled out.
Detection of mycoplasma organisms is difficult because they are more difficult to culture than other bacteria. Your veterinarian will do one or more tests to determine if mycoplasma is present. In addition to a throat swab, a CBC will probably be done, along with a urinalysis. X-Rays of the abdomen and chest may be ordered. A biochemical profile may be needed. These molecular tests are expensive, but sometimes the only way to effectively detect the presence of mycoplasma.
Treatment of mycoplasma infection will consist of a variety of medications and combinations of medications to treat the symptoms of the disease. In-patient care may be required, especially if the animal is dehydrated. Anti-biotic therapy specifically designed for mycoplasma infection is important and will include tetracycline, choramphenicol, tylosin and erythromycin. This will be an extended treatment to make sure that all mycoplasma infection is eradicated. Follow up care by your veterinarian is also very important. Pet owners should be watchful for signs that the disease is reoccurring, such as no appetite or respiratory problems and inform the veterinarian immediately if they are present. With proper veterinary treatment, most patients recover well.